("Y’know, Alistair, I think I can get you a role in the next Iron Man flick. We can call you ‘Juice Man.’ Or ‘Needle Man.’ No offense." / Photo courtesy of allelbows.com.)
Strikeforce confirmed last night that the May 15th heavyweight battle between Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and mohawked contender Brett Rogers — originally thought to be a non-title fight — will now be for the belt. The decision was made "after much internal debate," and will bring Overeem back under the Strikeforce banner for the first time since he beat up Paul Buentello in November 2007. Since then, Overeem has gone 7-0 with 1 no contest against such notable cans as Tony Sylvester and James Thompson.
So let’s get this out of the way: Of course it’s ridiculous that Brett Rogers has effectively earned a title shot by getting smoked by Fedor Emelianenko. But he and Alistair were available in May, and Fedor wasn’t. And what would happen if Rogers beat Overeem in a non-title fight? Would they need to have an immediate rematch for the belt, while Fedor takes another meaningless exhibition? Would it be another 30 months before Alistair decided to grace Strikeforce with his presence? In the end, it just makes more sense if the champion defends his title against somebody. Anybody.